How Do Greeks Construct Greek And Non-Greek Identity?

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Name: George Jukes Student Number: 23003317 Module Code: CL1CA CL1CA Convenor: Professor Amy Smith CL1CA Seminar Tutor: Professor Luke Houghton Personal Tutor: Professor Roger Matthews Date of Submission: 10/12/14 Deadline: 11/12/14 How did the Greeks construct Greek and non-Greek identity? The Classical period of Ancient Greece saw the emergence of the idea of the ‘Greek’, or being Greek rather than from one’s own Polis (city-state), constructed in contrast to the idea of the ‘non-Greek’. This construct originated from pre-existing ideological frameworks and was affirmed by aspects of Greek culture, historic events and political ideology. This essay seeks to explain how the ‘Greek’ and ‘non-Greek’ identities were constructed, focusing on the…show more content…
I. 6.) strongly suggesting the idea that all Greeks are inherently free and therefore that non-Greeks are slavish and therefore incapable of freedom (Ath. Pol. I. 1252b). Persians depicts the barbarians’ perceived obsession with hierarchal politics throughout, cataloguing the names of fallen commanders (Aes. Persae. L. 29-64, 300-331) and stressing the power and importance of Persian autocracy (L. 169-170, 212-214, 634-636), this contrasting with the apparent equality of the democratic Greeks, none of which are ever named in importance above one-another (L. 355; Hall 1996: 135) and “are neither slaves nor subject to any single man” (L. 242). By this, Aeschylus draws several distinct contrasts between the political systems of the Athenians, frequently referred to as the Greeks (L. 417, 462 etc.), and the Persians, frequently referred to as the barbarians in the dialogue, despite the fact that the characters themselves are Persian (L. 255, 390, 421, 433-34 etc.). These contrasts of a political nature show the distinction between Greek and non-Greek (Barbarian), to be primarily political constructing their respective identities along such lines, rather than by culture or ethnicity (Hall 1989:…show more content…
Extensive and hostile contact with the Persians and their numerous foreign subjects during the Achaemenid Persian invasions of Greece under Darius (490 BC) and Xerxes (480 BC) caused an increased awareness of non-Greeks and allowed for the construction of the non-Greek as the barbarian and therefore a comparison with which to affirm Greek values; Greek victory against the odds during these wars furthermore justified the sense of superiority the Greeks began to feel over the non-Greek ‘barbarians’, a feeling that developed into a much more hostile sense of racial superiority towards the close of the 5th century BC (see ‘Persians and Polarity’: page 2). Politics, however, were arguably the most important factor in the construction of Greek and non-Greek identities, the difference between ‘free Greeks’ and ‘unfree barbarians’ being a common theme of many of the sources above; the pre-eminence of the Athenian-dominated Delian League nurturing the combination of the Athenian democratic ideology with Panhellenism (partly due to a growing awareness of non-Greeks and partly imposed by the League) that further emphasised the concept of

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